Happy Birthday Jeremy Irons + James Lipton! Watch their conversation in Inside the Actor’s Studio

Jeremy Irons turns 65 and James Lipton, the host of Inside the Actors Studio, turns 86 today.

I’ve always been fascinated by the 60-min interview because it feels more relaxed and intimate and you really get to know the actor Mr. Lipton is conversing with. And that’s the thing, it feels more like a guest speaking candidly to a host instead of a staged interview.

InsideActorsStudioIn the early 1990s, Lipton was inspired by Bernard Pivot and sought to create a three-year educational program for actors that would be a distillation of what he had learned in the 12 years of his own intensive studies. In 1994, he arranged for the Actors Studio – the home base of “method acting” in the USA for over 60 years – to join with New York City’s New School University and form the Actors Studio Drama School, a formal degree-granting program at the graduate level. After ending its contract with the New School, the Actors Studio established The Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University in 2006. (per Wiki)


Check out the interview below. Mr. Irons even serenaded the audience with his guitar! 😀

Jeremy John Irons was born in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, which is a small island just off the south coast of England.


Quick Bio:
He trained at the Bristol Old Vic School for two years, then joined Bristol Old Vic repertory company where he gained much experience working in everything from Shakespeare to contemporary dramas. He moved to London in 1971 and had a number of odd jobs before landing the role of “John the Baptist” in the hit musical “Godspell”. He went on to a successful early career in the West End theatre and on TV, and debuted on-screen in Nijinsky (1980). In the early 80s, he gained international attention with his starring role in the Granada Television serial adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel “Brideshead Revisited” (1981), after which he was much in demand as a romantic leading man. He went on to a steady film career. (per IMDb)

I’ve always admired Mr. Irons, though I’m guilty that I haven’t seen a lot of Irons’ earlier works, but if I were to list top five roles of those I have seen, I’d probably list The Mission (check out my Music Break spotlight of Gabriel’s Oboe), The Lion King, The Man in the Iron Mask, Stealing Beauty, and Margin Call. Yes I know he’s not on for very long in the last film, but when he does, it was definitely the most memorable parts of the film. On top of his considerable talent and classical training, the tall thespian also has a gift of screen presence. It’s impossible not to notice him when he’s on screen, and when he opens his mouth, he absolutely commands attention.

TheLionKing_ScarHis vocal performance as Scar in The Lion King is downright iconic. His rich, haunting voice works absolutely brilliantly. The only person I could think of in this role would be Alan Rickman. Interestingly they played brothers in the Die Hard movies (Hans & Simon Gruber), though never share a screen together. Now, you’d think it’d be impossible to match the iconic booming voice of James Earl Jones, but Irons’ sinister raspy voice is indelible in its own right. The way Scar whispered ‘Long Live the King’ before throwing his own brother Mufasa off a cliff remains one of the most heart-wrenching death scene ever filmed, not just in animated features, mind you. I always tear up whenever I watch it and I remember hating Scar with a passion. Apparently the Disney animators were so impressed with Irons’s performance that they worked his features into Scar’s face!

His singing segment of Be Prepared with the Nazi undertones is perhaps the most memorable Disney villain songs ever. I guess Irons will always be known for his deliciously evil roles as he’s not afraid to take risks in his career.

Speaking of devilish roles, he’s recently wrapped the SHOWTIME series as Pope Alexander VI in The Borgias, which follows the Borgia family as they rise to power in the Roman Catholic church. The tagline says: Sex. Power. Murder. Amen. ‘Nuff said. His next project is a Western Thriller A Magnificent Death from a Shattered Hand, a directorial debut from… Thomas Jane?? Color me intrigued 😀

Let’s wish Jeremy Irons a happy birthday. What’s your favorite role by the British thespian?

Music Break: Ennio Morricone’s The Mission – Gabriel’s Oboe

I’ve been wanting to feature this haunting score for a while now, and since Easter was just a few days ago, I thought it’d be fitting to feature it this week.

TheMissionPosterEnnio Morricone is one of my favorite composers of all time, with Cinema Paradiso being one of my favorite scores ever. There’s something so highly evocative about his music, and whilst Cinema Paradiso is more lush and romantic in nature, this score for Roland Joffé 1986’s film The Mission has a poignant and haunting quality to it. It’s one of those pieces I’d describe as so achingly beautiful as whenever I listen to it, it pierces my heart and stirs my soul.

I saw this film years ago and after seeing the trailer last night, I’m compelled to see it again. The story centers on 18th century Spanish Jesuits try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe in danger of falling under the rule of pro-slavery Portugal. It features fantastic performances from major thespians such as Jeremy Irons, Robert DeNiro and Liam Neeson.

The main theme, called Gabriel’s Oboe, is one of the most stirring piece of music I’d ever come across. The name of the score refers to the scene where Father Gabriel (Irons) travels to Iquazu Falls, climbs to the top and plays his oboe. The Guaraní community who lives above the Falls had tied a priest to a cross and sent him over the falls to his death, but the Guaraní warriors were captivated by the music and allowed Gabriel to live.

Morricone’s score for The Mission was ranked on #1 in a poll of the all-time greatest film scores and is ranked 23rd on the AFI’s list of 25 greatest film scores of all time. Morricone received a second Oscar nomination for The Mission, but lost out to Herbie Hancock’s jazzy score for Bertrand Tavernier’s Round Midnight. (per Wikipedia)

I owned a couple of Sarah Brightman‘s CD, and one of my favorite songs from her is Nella Fantasia (In My Fantasy). Well, apparently it was based on Morricone’s Gabriel Oboe theme he did for this film! Brightman was such a big fan of that music that he begged Morricone to put lyrics to the theme to create her own song.

My next song was originally an instrumental written by the composer Ennio Morricone for the film The Mission. About three years ago I wrote to Mr. Morricone, asking whether he would give me permission to turn this particular piece into a song. He flatly refused. So every two months I would send yet another begging letter, until I think he became so sick of me that he finally relented. And I am really glad that he did, because I think it works beautifully as a song. (per Wikipedia)

Here’s the Sarah Brightman‘s rendition of Nella Fantasia (I can only find the live version):

Few scores are as exquisite and powerful as this one… Mr. Morricone is certainly a legend amongst even the best film composers ever, and this stands at the top of his amazing work.

I hope you enjoy today’s Music Break. Thoughts on this film and/or its music?